I’ve recently discovered that there are genres of mysteries that I’d never even thought of – cosy, cottage, needlework, etc. Silly me: I’d divided them into categories like simple-to-read; boring British inspectors with no personality; fun with-a-hook, as in Monica Ferris’ needlework tales; and the continuing adventures of one main character or family, written so well that every new title is like a visit with a dear friend you haven’t talked to for some time.Wow...I think we should invite her back to review more books for us. Don't you just want to dive right into this one? Thanks again, oh ghost friend. We look forward to seeing you some more.
Since I don’t dote on solving the crime before the author does, this last category is my favorite, with one big caveat: the writing must be good enough and sophisticated enough to tell a story with some momentum while it furthers (is that a word?) your acquaintance with a previously-met character.
That’s a long introduction to Margaret Maron’s fifteenth Deborah Knott novel Sand Sharks, set in yet another North Carolina locale. We first met Deborah Knott in The Bootlegger’s Daughter, and have watched the Southern Belle mature from a somewhat wild child/lawyer to a cool, thirty-something judge in a District Court. Along the way, a husband and stepson have been added to her life. She’s related to many of the people in her town, and is the youngest child and only girl in a family of twelve children. Daddy the bootlegger is still alive and kicking, but his independent daughter tends to make her own way.
One of the charms of these books is that each takes place in a different locale in North Carolina, and the reader picks up a working knowledge of potteries, autumn tourism in the mountains, the furniture markets, etc.
Sand Sharks takes Deborah to the coast at Wilmington and Wrightsville Beach for a Judicial Convention. Well-written prose ensures that soon your body has relaxed in the warm, sunny white sand, lulled by the cries of gulls overhead and the shrieks of happy children playing at the ocean’s edge. And soon there is a dead body claiming your attention – and Deborah’s. The convention is peopled with Deborah’s cousins, old friends, a few old amours, and several stories of injudicious behavior that could set someone up as a murder victim. The question of who did it and why is irresistible to Deborah.
If this is your type of mystery – readable in just a couple of days, making you feel like you’ve caught up with old friends and distant relatives – then this is for you. And you’ll probably want to go back to the beginning and read the 14 preceding titles. One other note: Maron’s book is set in a generous type that makes reading it easy as you stay up an extra 20 minutes to finish the book.
Wednesday, September 30, 2009
Today we have a guest review from one of my fellow library workers, a retired Washington journalist who wants to stay anonymous. I'm really behind on my reading and since she is a huge Margaret Maron fan, I offered a quid pro quo: "You can read the book now and not wait for me to finish it, but you have to write a review." She finished it in record time and sent me the following: